Ok, so, you want to take the kids camping in cold weather? Well, being a heat seeking Aussie who has never camped in the snow I had a brainwave the other day…
I decided to write a post about camping with kids in cold weather. Genius right?
Honestly though, in saying that, I have camped a bit in the cold (single digits) with the kids and I keep fielding the same questions by parents who are heading off camping in winter.
Mainly they are worried about what to dress the kids in overnight and what to do about bedding.
Then last weekend when it was bloody freezing we took off in the van and I posted photos of us rugged up and sitting round the fire and more questions came through.
And, well, I guess you’re here on this particular website cos you wanna hear my thoughts on our version of things so, expert or not, here goes!
Some of my go to’s when it comes to keeping the kidlets warm…
Sleep suits –
These are going to be your best friend.
As you have probably experienced already at home, young kids just don’t stay under blankets that well.
Get the suits slightly too big so that you can layer the kids pj’s or thermals underneath them. Layers are the key and then the sleep suit ensures that they stay covered up all night.
The ones I have currently are from Target and are fleecey and cheap enough that you can have a few spares up your sleeve.
I leave them on the kids in the morning for a bit if it’s really cold and they do tend to get trashed every now and then which is why I chose these ones.
I use the footless ones for my two now that they are a bit older so that they don’t stand up and trash the bottom of the suit by walking in something wet.
It’s also really hard to put boots on over the ones with feet.
When they were babies and not yet walking I used the ones with feet, often with socks under them.
There is sometimes discussion about whether it is a good idea to sleep babies in fleece as they can overheat. If that is something that concerns you then check out some of the sleep suits made of natural fibres that are available.
You can get sleep suits from ergoPouch Australia that are made of natural fibres and come in 2.5 and 3 tog versions that are super warm. I went down this route when the kids were babies.
It’s also worth checking our Merino Kids as they have some beautiful sleeping bags made out of merino wool.
You know that thing your mum always used to say about keeping your head and feet warm? Yep, I reckon she was onto something!
Having your head covered makes a HUGE difference in keeping warm.
I have also been known to chuck the kids in bed with their beanies on now that they are a little older and it’s not a suffocation risk.
Avoid air beds –
I know they are super handy but they get so cold. It’s the air inside that gets cold.
You can put a yoga mat or woollen blankets over them and under the sheets to help but really, once you have packed the extra stuff to keep yourself warm you don’t really benefit from the space saving elements of a blow up mattress.
Lots of people swear by the self inflatable mattresses and/or camp stretchers for staying crispy in cold weather.
Waterproof shoes –
Gumboots will do but if you want to go one better then go boots designed for snow. They are not only waterproof but warm.
Otherwise just go nuts with the socks under your gumboots.
There’s nothing worse than the kids jumping outta bed in the morning and heading straight out into grass covered with dew and ending up with soaking wet shoes. Once the shoes are wet it’s tough coming back from that and it’s a total pain.
The other cool thing about the boots is that they can put them on and off by themselves so you don’t have to be doing it for them every time they go in and out of the tent/van.
Hot water bottle –
You can’t beat a hotty at your feet when it’s freezing,
They are easy, cheap, pack down small and most people have access to a means of heating water while they’re camping, even if it’s a pot on the fire.
A quick disclaimer, you will hear from some that you should never use a hot water bottle with kids due to the risk of burns if it bursts so I thought I better mention that before you decided if this option is for you.
I gotta say, crawling into bed when mum had left a hot water bottle in there for me is still something I remember from being a kid. So good.
Zip up vest –
These are super handy because you can just chuck them over anything easily without having to take beanies or mittens off first.
I throw one over the kids sleep suits in the morning for breakfast and until things warm up a bit.
Also, they usually have pockets which means you’re not totally stuffed if you lose a glove/mitten.
I have a couple of this one pictured from Bonds, they are great but quite light. You can check them out here.
We also have a few more that are a bit thicker that we took to the snow recently which I pull out when it’s really cold.
Double sock the kids –
Layering everything is a good idea but chucking a few pairs of socks on the kids makes a big difference.
It’s the same as the beanie thing mentioned above, keep the head and the feet warm and you’re pretty good.
If you pull their socks up over their pants then they have a better chance of staying on all night too.
Choose a site where you are allowed fires –
If you know it’s going to be getting cold then plan ahead and choose a camp site where you are allowed fires.
It limits your options a bit, especially close to the major cities but it’s so worth it.
There’s so many different apps to help you find camp sites these days and most of them have filters you can use to make sure they have what you want, like the ability to have a fire.
Check out handy apps for road tripping and camping for some super handy apps for sourcing sites.
Nothing worse than cold hands.
Just a word of warning though, I’ve stuffed this up a few times and it’s such a pain!
Use mittens if the kids are really little.
I have been sent to the edge a few times this weekend by having to try and get normal gloves on little kids with tiny little bendy fingers over and over and over. Don’t do it to yourself.
Now I fully understand why mittens were invented.
Doona v sleeping bag –
Our kids have recently turned 3 and 4 and I’m just now thinking I might head out and grab them a sleeping bag each.
I’ve been using a doona for each of them up until now, mostly because the nylon feel sleeping bags just used to slide off them when I used it as a blanket.
But also because they just wouldn’t stay in it.
Ten minutes in and they would have popped out the top and trying to get a sleeping toddler into a sleeping bag is a nightmare.
At least I can just throw the doona over them without moving them and the cotton cover sort of grips the fleece of their sleep suits so it stays on better.
In saying that, it is getting trickier to layer them enough at night as they are coming out of nappies and trying to take a kid to the loo in the middle of the night when they are wearing 4000 layers is a bit crap.
Because of that I reckon now might be the time to drop some layers and invest in a couple of super warm sleeping bags.
Ugg boots/slippers –
Uggs rock. I’d live in them if I could. It’s just a real bummer if they get wet.
They are great when it’s super dry out and there’s not a whole lot of dew. I’ve scotch guarded the bajeesus out of the kids uggies and it’s an improvement but not a total problem solver.
So, now I take them along and they are the inside the van/tent shoes and sometimes even the sleep in shoes too 🙂
You are always gonna need something warm to put on when the super grotty snow boots/gumboots get left at the door and uggs don’t do too badly at all.
Hand warmers –
This is a new one for me and I’m so bummed I didn’t clue on sooner!
You can pick up the HotHands Hand Warmers online at a bunch of different places or in certain chemists and they provide up to 10 hours of heat per use.
Perfect for kids who didn’t follow instructions and stuck their hands in the creek for ten minutes while playing. Then cried because they were freezing. Just saying…
Sheep skin –
Chuck it between the portacot mattress and the sheet, line the bassinet, lay it under sleeping bags or line the kids camp chairs with it.
The possibilities are endless.
It’ll keep the kids warm in winter and cool in summer, you can’t go wrong.
I have been carting this one around on every trip we have done since this photo of Max laying on it when we were camping at Yuraygir National Park when he was four weeks old.
Now it is a nice cosy rug for the floor of the van or the tent.
I just wash it with a little bit laundry liquid in the washing machine on a normal cold cycle and it is still in perfect condition 4 years later.
This is a bit random tacked on the end here I know but I learnt something this weekend gone that I thought was worth sharing.
Ivy being the little blonde fair skinned pixie that she is can get a little bit of a rash on her cheeks when the weather gets cold.
Take her outside when it’s really cold, add some wind and then some heat around the fire and the cheeks really go off.
They ended up pretty chapped and sore this weekend and I had a bit of a play around with a few different ointments to try get it under control with mixed success.
Coconut oil was pretty good but only just keeping it under control and I was having to apply it constantly so I did some googling and took some other mums advice and got some of the Moo Goo eczema and psoriasis cream.
Her face was back to normal after two applications, no kidding. Freaking amazing. I’ve got no affiliation with Moo Goo I must add, I wouldn’t bloody mind after this though!
Whatever you do decide to take along with you though, I’ve decided I’m not going camping in winter again with little faces without some sort of decent cream on hand.
Well, there you go. Good luck, have fun and I hope you stay warm!
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